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The changing landscape of thermal experience and warmth in older people's dwellings

Tweed, Christopher, Humes, Nicholas and Zapata-Lancaster, Gabriela 2015. The changing landscape of thermal experience and warmth in older people's dwellings. Energy Policy 84 , pp. 223-232. 10.1016/j.enpol.2015.03.011

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The UK's carbon dioxide reduction policy initiatives often treat environmental conditions in buildings as averaged values of air temperature that flatten spatial variations. This discounts the influence of varying thermal conditions on how people use buildings and the impact this may have on energy consumption. This paper explores the intersection between older people's thermal experience, spatial and temporal variations in thermal conditions in a dwelling and the influence this has on occupants' use of space. The paper reports on qualitative studies in homes with both conventional and newly installed low carbon heating systems. The results suggest that older people are sensitive to and adept at exploiting variations in the dynamic ‘landscape’ of warmth to achieve desired thermal preferences and that they modify their dwellings to improve the quality of the thermal environment. There is also some evidence of a ‘spatial rebound’ effect after energy upgrades, when occupants inhabit rooms they previously could not afford to heat. The nature of qualitative research precludes robust recommendations for policy. However, one important avenue to explore further appears to be that householders may be more strongly motivated by interventions offering improvements across a range of aspects rather than on energy savings alone.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Thermal experience; Dwellings; Thermal comfort; Low carbon heating
Additional Information: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY licence.
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0301-4215
Funders: EPSRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 15 March 2015
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 09:16

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